The University of Science and Technology of South Shenzhen, China, has issued an official statement distancing itself from the work of geneticist He Jiankui, an employee of this institution as an associate professor.
In an interview with The Associated Press, he stunned the world yesterday by claiming that he had altered the genes of human embryos with the help of CRISPR, and that these babies – from binoculars – were born a few weeks ago.
The embryos were apparently healthy; He claims that they have been edited to destroy a gene called CCR5, implicated in HIV.
"I feel like a strong responsibility that it's not just about making a first, but also making it an example," he told The Associated Press. . "The company will decide what to do next."
The problem? Most countries in the world apply strict rules against the constitution of human embryos published with the help of CRISPR. If it claims to be true, it is the first time this has happened – and it seems to have been done without permission or supervision.
Thus, the University of Science and Technology of the South does not want one.
In a brief statement on his website, the university said that himself, who was on leave since February of this year, had not done the work at the university or during the hours from the university. The university or his biology department was not aware of the work.
"The University of Science and Technology of the South strictly needs that scientific research respects and respects ethical standards and international academic standards in accordance with national laws and regulations," reads the statement.
He immediately calls on independent experts to investigate He's claims.
It should be noted that the research has not been published in an academic document, nor independently verified, and it will not reveal the identity of the babies, although an online form seems to indicate that the work was approved by an ethics committee last year.
Despite this form, other institutions are also trying to distance themselves. As reported by the BBC, the hospital associated with the complaint also denied any involvement.
And while the form designates the Southern University of Science and Technology as a sponsor, it does not currently approve the ethical approval of the project.
"For Associate Professor He Jiankui to use genetic editing technology for research on the human embryo," reads the statement, "the academic committee of the biology department believes that 39, it constitutes a serious violation of ethics and academic standards ".